A wanted member of a terror cell who reportedly managed to evade earlier attempts to capture him was one of three people killed during a fierce firefight with Israeli troops in Nablus on Tuesday morning. Another 40 people were injured.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, soldiers surrounded the home of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades commander Ibrahim Nablusi, prompting an exchange of fire.
The IDF, Border Police and the Shin Bet security agency issued statements saying Nablusi had been killed there, along with another terrorist.
Israeli troops used shoulder-fired missiles at the building in which Nablusi was hiding, the IDF said. After scanning the house and confirming that Nablusi was dead, troops found a large number of explosive devices and other weapons, the Shin Bet said.
According to the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry, three Palestinians were killed and 40 wounded and at least four were in critical condition. The ministry identified the dead as Nablusi, Islam Subuh and Hassin Jamal Taha.
Israeli officials said no soldiers were injured during the operation, but a border police dog, Zili, was killed by gunfire from escapees.
Photos| Traces of destruction at the site where resistance fighters clashed with occupation special forces in the old city of Nablus this morning. pic.twitter.com/qsjZdZeYTE
– Al-Rai Agency (@alrayps) August 9, 2022
Palestinians exchanged fire with the Israeli army in the old city of Nablus, where troops tried to capture Nablusi.
Clashes also broke out in other parts of Nablus, as Palestinians hurled explosive devices and stones at troops, according to the IDF. Soldiers responded with “riot dispersal means” and live fire, hitting several Palestinians, the IDF said.
Heavy gunfire from the ongoing clashes was heard as dozens of Israeli military vehicles brought traffic to a standstill in one of the West Bank’s largest cities.
Nablusi was part of a squad that had carried out several shooting attacks on soldiers and civilians in the West Bank earlier this year, according to the Shin Bet. The IDF said that included a shooting attack at the Tomb of Joseph compound outside Nablus.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he “sends his thanks to the security forces in the field who dedicate their lives to the safety of the citizens of Israel.”
“The elimination of the terrorist Ibrahim Nablusi is another step in our uncompromising fight against terrorism. I welcome the combined action of security organizations,” Lapid said in a statement released by his office.
“The Shin Bet once again demonstrated its intelligence superiority against terrorist organizations. I would like to thank the men and women of the Shin Bet who participated in the operation, for their courage, creativity and determination to reach out and attack terrorists in places they mistakenly thought would be a haven for them,” Lapid said.
Speaking about the dog from the elite police Yamam counter-terrorism unit who was killed, Lapid said: “Zili was part of the unit, loved and professional. He will be missed by the unit, he will be missed by the dog handlers and fighters he repeatedly accompanied on operational activity.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz also hailed Tuesday’s operation, saying Israel “will continue to act in a focused and powerful manner against terrorism in all areas, and against anyone who threatens the citizens of Israel.”
“Whoever threatens will not live,” Gantz said on Twitter.
In February, Israeli troops killed three members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades cell in Nablus. While Nablusi was initially believed to have been killed during that operation, he was seen attending the funerals of his cellmates.
The martyr Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi gave his life on Ashura to Imam Al-Hussein pic.twitter.com/15N6f4vIzF
— Qassem S Qassem (@QassemsQassem) August 9, 2022
Since then, Palestinian media have hailed Nablusi as a hero for repeatedly managing to evade Israeli arrest, though Israeli officials have said he was not always the target of arrest operations in Nablus.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are a coalition of armed groups associated with the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party. The terror group has carried out joint attacks with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank.
The operation came less than 48 hours after Israel and PIJ reached a ceasefire following three days of armed conflict in and around the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, the terror group warned it could resume fighting unless Israel agrees to release two of its members.
The Egyptian-brokered deal, which took effect at 11:30 pm on Sunday, ended a three-day conflict that began on Friday with Israeli strikes that killed a senior PIJ commander. Palestinian terrorists subsequently fired around 1,100 rockets into Israeli territory, while the Israel Defense Forces hit Islamic Jihad targets and killed another of the Iranian-backed organization’s top leaders in Gaza.
The three days of conflict were sparked by the IDF’s arrest of West Bank Islamic Jihad chief Bassam Saadi in a raid in Jenin last week and the terror group’s subsequent threats to carry out terror attacks. in retaliation.
Tensions have remained high in the West Bank as Israeli security forces stepped up raids and arrest operations following a deadly wave of terror attacks against Israelis that left 19 dead earlier this year.
In separate raids in the West Bank overnight, troops detained four wanted Palestinians, the IDF said Tuesday morning.
Times of Israel staff and agencies contributed to this report.